Drag Me To Hell

Starring Alison Lohman, Lorna Raver and Justin Long. Directed by Sam Raimi.
Rated MA 15+ (strong horror themes and violence). 99 mins.

The film opens and closes with sequences which show, precisely, what the title means and entails.

Sam Raimi and his brother, Ivan, loved exploitation horror and produced a trilogy of Evil Dead scary filmfests from 1981, when he was 22, to 1992. Along the way he directed a wide range of films that audience fans of his horror and his Spiderman series tend to forget: a striking western, The Quick and the Dead, a comic-book hero with Liam Neeson, Darkman, a fine suspense drama, A Simple Plan, an occult thriller, The Gift, and even a baseball tribute with Kevin Costner, For Love of the Game, all this between 1990 and 2000.

He has decided to go back to the horror but, perhaps in the light of the popularity of Spiderman, he has mostly avoided gore and bloodshed and gone for a treatment that will entertain audiences who are younger and older. There are plenty of creepy moments and some jump-out-of-your-seat shocks. He has shrewdly created a mixture of ordinary scenes in banks, apartments and cars along with some eerie locations, a mansion where a medium operates and the shop and office of a seer fortune-teller. But, it is in the bank itself where the mood changes as Cristine (Alison Lohman) who is eager to become assistant manager and make hard decisions refuses an old woman, Mrs Ganush (who has some quite repulsive personal hygiene and dental behaviour) an extension of a loan for her house. Mrs Ganush (Lorna Raver) feels she is shamed and curses Christine. And, off we go.

Christine's professor boyfriend, Clay (Justin Long) is sceptical but goes along with her seeking a fortune teller and reading up about the spirit Lamia and its possessing people. As might be expected, she has a nightmare which has her waking up screaming. She also has hallucinations. Mrs Ganush makes plenty of alarming appearances.

Raimi is very skilful in keeping the balance between realism and the horror with touches of ironic humour, so that, Drag Me to Hell, does very well what it sets out to do.

Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

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